Excuse my very spotty posting of late; August is vacation-time in America, and even though I’m a student without any immediate hope for employment, I went on vacation. To South Africa. Which is very, very far away.
Much seems to have happened: India keep slipping in Tests, even as they ascend in ODIs. It’s a puzzling situation, but also a deeply political one. Mickey Arthur, South Africa’s coach-cum-provocateur, praised India’s strategy of “one country, two teams” recently, but it’s hardly a product of thought. Think back to the roots of the problem: we have on the one hand an aging group of superstars, very able but also very old. Greg Chappell arrives on the scene, quickly diagnoses the problem, and tries to infuse youth into the dying corpse. He leaves in disgrace, but most in power seem to agree with him.
But what are they to do? If they get rid of, say, Ganguly — as they tried to, and eventually did under Greg — protests and furies result. If they leave the gang in there, they watch as fielding suffers, as well as running between the wickets and just plain oomph. So, we have a compromise: Dravid and company are driven off the main stage, which, as far as I can tell, only Ganguly seems to resent.
The two paths, however, also appear to be converging again. India haven’t played their best in Test cricket (which, for most in the public, doesn’t really matter), drawing against South Africa at home (quelle scandale!) and losing horribly to Sri Lanka away. It looks like the series against Australia will be the final hurrah for many in the team, with Kumble — out of form, and apparently out of touch — bound to head off.
Of course, predictions are never wise. Who else would have thought that Kevin Pietersen’s England would almost be on the verge of reaching No. 2 in ODIs? Who knew England even knew how to play ODIs? I’ll talk a bit more about rankings later, but for now, let me just say: a strong India, a strong England, and a strong Australia — that’s the right axis of cricket.